Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: February 12, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib wrote a column for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s blog in 2006; GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report

In this November 6, 2008 photo, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, is photographed outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
In this November 6, 2008 photo, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, is photographed outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

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DRIVING THE CONVO — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with senior members of the Democratic Party, issued a strong rebuke of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent anti-Semitic comments. “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” a joint statement of the House leadership said. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

Schumer told JI“Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible. This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress — or anywhere in American society. No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.”

Omar issued an ‘unequivocal’ apology shortly after, but “at the same time” doubled down on her criticism of AIPAC. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

So far, at least 45 House Democrats have condemned Omar’s anti-Semitic comments. But the Democratic leadership resisted calls to remove the Minnesota Congresswoman from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Instead, some Democrats drew attention to House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s past comments against George Soros, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), in an exclusive, tells JI“I found the tweets to be deeply troubling and I’m glad she apologized. Anti-Semitism has no place in our country or our political discourse. I look forward to opening a dialogue with her to discuss these issues in greater detail.”

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who was the first House member to condemn Omar on Sunday, told reporters on Capitol Hill: “She’s a friend. I take her at her word. We share great values. She wants to see a great country, and I look forward to working with her. I do want to point out that when Kevin McCarthy said that it was Bloomberg, and then it was Soros, and it was Steyer pulling the strings behind the scenes—none of you camped out. And their caucus stayed united and had his back, and none of you called him out on that. I just want you all to acknowledge that there’s some hypocrisy going on there, too. That caucus can’t be chickenshit in the face of anti-Semitism either.”[Video]

— Omar tweeted on Monday: “Hey Max Rose thank you for stopping by the office today! I appreciated your call to do better as a friend and ally and appreciate your courage in calling out the double standard in Congress.”

 “Among the yellow notes of support posted on Omar’s office nameplate on Capitol Hill on Monday was one that read, ‘Mazel Tov.'” [APPic]

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) noted in a statement, “I am watching with great concern the actions of the President and Leader McCarthy – who have both trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes themselves – regarding their attempt to purposely make Israel a partisan issue and use Israel as a partisan weapon.”

Amb. Dan Shapiro tells us: “Good on the Democratic leadership. They responded quickly and firmly in calling for Rep. Omar to apologize. Apologies are good. Better still is when they indicate real learning and a changed approach going forward. Here’s hoping that is what we’ll be seeing in the near future.”

President Trump also chimed in, telling reporters aboard Air Force One, “I think she should be ashamed of herself. I think it was a terrible statement and I don’t think her apology was adequate.”

The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes… “Ilhan Omar Just Made It Harder to Have a Nuanced Debate About Israel: That Omar has become the face of anti-Israel sentiment on the American left in a short space of time is most frustrating of all for activists and advocacy groups who wish for more nuanced conversations and policies on Israel and Palestine. Especially on the left, there is a hunger for this kind of conversation: According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, less than a third of self-identified Democrats say they’re more sympathetic to Israel than to Palestinians, and yet the vast majority of Democratic politicians in Washington are staunchly pro-Israel.” [TheAtlantic]

Yair Rosenberg: “Unlike most people who have voiced anti-Semitic tropes, Omar has actually expressed genuine self-awareness about doing so, and a desire to unlearn these toxic ideas… She deserves all the denunciation today, yes, but tomorrow, she deserves a chance to move beyond it.”

Wall Street Journal editorial… “The Education of Ilhan Omar: Democrats risk losing moderates as well as part of their base if these sentiments begin to define their party’s view of Israel in the public mind. They’re wise to send a rebuke now.” [WSJ]

Superstar freshman Dems replace Pelosi as GOP targets — by John Bresnahan, Laura Barron-Lopez and Heather Caygle: “While the NRCC still regularly bashes Pelosi, GOP lawmakers and aides privately acknowledge that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar are their main focus now. The GOP strategy risks a backlash — a party that has problems with women and minorities continues to focus its attacks on women of color — even as the freshman Democrats say they’re not surprised by it.” [Politico]

Rep. Rashida Tlaib wrote a column for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s blog in 2006 — by Joe Perticone: “Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan published a column in 2006 on The Final Call, an online publication founded and maintained by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.” [BusinessInsider]

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tweeted on Monday: “Netanyahu has made enemies of the Democratic Party and AIPAC has become an arm of the GOP. The sooner Israelis get rid of their corrupt PM and make peace with the Palestinians, the sooner the strain between our countries will dissipate.”

— Of note: Howard Dean tweeted in 2016 that he was “excited” to be a speaker at AIPAC’s Northeast Gala.

ON THE GOLAN — Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) joined their fellow Democrats in supporting U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The two New York Democrats told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh on Sunday that they would follow Rep. Eliot Engel’s lead in supporting the move.

Suozzi: “I am going to follow Eliot Engel’s lead. Whatever he says, I do.”

Meeks: “I will look at it. I have been to the Golan Heights. I know the significance of it. Eliot hasn’t mentioned it to me, but it’s something I would definitely consider, knowing the strategic spot of the Golan Heights and how it helps Israel with security. So I will talk to Eliot Engel about it, and, generally, where Eliot is, I am.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) declined to take a position when asked about it, but asserted, “I do understand how critical that region is to the security of Israel, and I am very worried about the turmoil in Syria and what it could mean for the security of Israel’s northern border. So you can absolutely count on me to a be a fierce defender of Israel security, including on the northern border, where so many of the threats originate from.”

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich writes… “For the ACLU, Antipathy to Israel Trumps Antidiscrimination: The ACLU is providing political cover to Democrats who oppose the laws by claiming they raise constitutional problems. It has brought lawsuits in three states, arguing that the First Amendment protects firms’ right to boycott certain clients… Yet state anti-BDS laws do not infringe on speech. They don’t regulate speech at all. That’s exactly what the ACLU has said when states passed similar anti-boycott laws that weren’t about Israel.” [WSJ]

ON THE HILL — GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report — by Andrew Desiderio and Burgess Everett: “Senate Republicans are fuming at President Donald Trump for telling lawmakers he would disregard a law requiring a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The uproar among Republicans is just the latest example of their deep discontent with the president’s foreign policy. It could prompt even more defections in favor of a Democrat-led resolution coming before the House and Senate this month to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.” [Politico]

SCENE YESTERDAY — Rep. Matt Gaetz‏ (R-FL) posted a photo of himself addressing an event honoring the Bukharian Jewish community on the Capitol. “I’ll always support our Jewish communities and our strong ally Israel,” he wrote. [Pic]

— Flashback: GOP lawmaker condemned for inviting Holocaust denier to State of the Union [TheGuardian]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — On the Words Matter podcast, Elise Jordan, a former policy advisor to Rand Paul in 2016, asked strategist Steve Schmidt who is advising Howard Schultz about the potential 2020 candidate’s foreign policy views.

Schmidt: “Earlier this year he gave a speech at the Atlantic Council and by any objective measurement he would fall within the tradition that endured from President Trump through President Obama.”

Jordan: Would you say he’s a realist in the tradition of, say, James Baker or does he tend to be for democracy promotion? He said he would support leaving troops in Syria the other day. 

Schmidt: “He did say that and thought that Trump’s decision announcing the decision precipitously was a mistake. I think if you go back to his speech at the Atlantic Council, what he talked about was the importance of alliances, the connection within that alliance of free peoples, the idea that America is the indispensable nation in the world that if the U.S. steps back that vacuum will be filled with actors that are not benevolent, not benign, so I think he stayed in that speech well within the boundaries of what we would recognize as a foreign policy that James Baker would be deeply comfortable with.” [WordsMatter]

— Flashback to April 24, 2015 — Jeb Bush distances himself from James Baker: “After Baker’s J Street speech, Bush came under pressure from prominent conservatives — including Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson — who wanted Bush to strongly speak out against Baker’s comments.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE DAY — Netanyahu to Join Arab Leaders at Middle East Conference in Poland — by Noa Landau: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Poland Tuesday night to attend a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. State Department… According to the Polish Foreign Ministry, some 60 countries have confirmed their attendance, including several from the Middle East. Aside from Israel, the Mideast participants include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Tunisia.” [Haaretz]

Palestinians ask Arabs to boycott Mideast summit in Poland — by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “The Palestinians on Monday called on Arab nations to boycott or downgrade their representation at [the] Mideast summit… as President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia… to meet King Salman to discuss ‘the current political situation and the dangers facing the Palestinian cause, especially Jerusalem.’ A senior Palestinian official said the visit had come at the invitation of the Saudi king, and talks were expected to focus on a peace plan the U.S. says it is working on.” [AP]

Pence to visit Auschwitz death camp during Europe trip — by Anne Gearan: “Vice President Pence will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site on Friday, and tour a memorial to Jews killed at the former Nazi extermination camp in Poland… Pence will tour the site with Polish President Andrzej Duda… It will be Pence’s first visit to the infamous prison camp…  Pence will be in Poland this week for a joint U.S.-Poland conference on Middle East peace and security… Pence is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when both are in Warsaw earlier in the week.”[WashPost]

TALK OF THE REGION — Chinese Investment in Israel Raises Security Fears — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: “Israel is moving to create an interagency government body to oversee sensitive commercial deals involving foreign companies… The effort… has taken on added urgency amid recent complaints about Chinese investment from American and Israeli security officials, including national security adviser John Bolton and Israel’s domestic spy chief.” [WSJ]

REPORT — The secret drone deal that created an Israel-UAE rift — by Barak Ravid: “A secret deal for the sale of drones from an Israeli company to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that failed in 2009 caused a deep rift in relations between Israel and the Gulf state. Former U.S. and Israeli officials tell me the crisis was only resolved after two years of efforts by the Obama administration and Israel’s Mossad intelligence service… When the deal was cancelled the UAE government, especially its de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), was furious. Dan Shapiro, who was the Middle East director at the National Security Council at the time, told me MBZ felt betrayed by the Israelis.” [Axios]

Venezuela’s Guaido says he is working to restore ties with Israel: “Venezuela’s self-declared leader Juan Guaido he was working to restore ties with Israel that Caracas cut off a decade ago… ‘I am very happy to report that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is at its height,’ Guaido told the mass-circulation Israel Hayom daily in an interview. A formal announcement on reestablishing ties and opening a new Venezuelan embassy in Israel would come ‘at the proper time.'” [Reuters]

KAFE KNESSET — Labor Parties Like It’s 2011 and Looks to Future — by Neri Zilber: For one day at least the Labor party, plummeting in the polls, took a step towards revitalization and the future. Over 30,000 party members — a respectable 56 percent turnout — voted in yesterday’s primaries, returning a younger, more diverse and cohesive slate for the upcoming general election. The top spots were taken by MKs Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir, both under 40 and leaders of the 2011 social justice protest movement.

No Generals Left? — Retired IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi has apparently decided against entering politics, according to a Channel 12 report last night. Ashkenazi had been linked to Gantz’s party, for whom he may yet issue a public statement of support. The big loser may be Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party. At the start of the election campaign sources close to Lapid told Kafe Knesset they were confident that “at least one” senior general would be brought in to the list. With Gantz forming his own party and adding another retired chief of staff in Moshe Yaalon, Ashkenazi may have been the last realistic option for Lapid (a talented politician but decidedly not a general) to shore up his security bona fides. Subscribe to read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [KafeKnesset]

2020 WATCH — Democrats cast deep doubt on Biden’s 2020 value… As he weighs whether to jump into the race, Biden has been conspicuously absentfrom early voting states… Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is thinking about running for president… New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is heading to New Hampshire this week as he contemplates a run for president… Rob Godfrey, Nikki Haley’s former deputy chief of staff and chief spokesperson, dismissed the speculation raised by Bill Kristol on Sunday that the former UN Ambassador could primary Trump in 2020…

HAPPENING TODAY — Nikki Haley will headline a Miami event. Her fee may be $200,000 — by Martin Vassolo: “Nikki Haley will headline the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Main Event at the Hilton Miami Downtown at 6 pm. But other than those basic facts, details about her appearance have remained shielded from the public. And the organization intends to keep it that way.” [MiamiHerald]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: GV Hires David Schenkein for Life Sciences Investments [Bloomberg• Irving Azoff Adds to Budding Restaurant Empire With West L.A.’s Apple Pan [HollywoodReporter] • Pernod Gets the Gentle Treatment From Elliott Management [Bloomberg• Former Amazon Executive Jon Fine Emerges as Foe of Jeff Bezos [WSJ• Kosher hotel proposed near Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood [Bizjournals] • Larry Silverstein May Start Building Final WTC Tower Without Signed Tenant [Bloomberg• Tikkun Olam Makers and Knock Knock Give a Sock featured among winners of Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Grant Competition [BxcfIdeas]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Robert Bowers, Suspect In Synagogue Shooting, Enters Not Guilty Plea During Arraignment On Hate Crimes Charges: “Robert Bowers, accused of killing 11 people and wounding seven during the attack on Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life Synagogue in October, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Monday morning…  In a statement, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady implied there would be no deal to avoid execution… In the coming weeks, Clarke will try to find reasons that Bowers should not die at the hands of the state… Two members from the Dor Hadash congregation, which is part of the Tree of Life Synagogue, were present at the hearing. They said they wanted to stand strong and represent the congregation.”[CBSPittsburgh]

ACROSS THE SEA — Tree commemorating murdered French Jew is chopped down amid anti-Semitic spate — by Clare Byrne: “A tree planted in a Paris suburb in memory of a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 has been chopped down… Ilan Halimi was kidnapped by a gang that demanded huge sums of money from his family, believing them to be rich because he was Jewish. After being tortured for three weeks, the 23-year-old cellphone salesman was found dumped next to a railway in the southern suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois.” [ToI]

DESSERT — Inside Brooklyn’s New, Supersized Russ & Daughters — by Christopher Bonanos: “The first thing you see when you enter the Navy Yard’s Building 77 is the spacious, spotless, white-tile-and-stainless-steel storefront of the new Russ & Daughters. It’s has been doing partial business most weekdays since December, and the full-time, seven-days-a-week official opening is today. The apricot rugelach hit the counter warm from the oven, and the chopped liver is fresh and isn’t overloaded with onion.” [GrubStreet]

Can Israeli Wine Succeed Beyond The Kosher Aisle? — by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen: “Over dinner at a bustling Flatiron Greek restaurant, Kyma, where Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve will be added to the list in the near future, we tasted the newly-released 2017 vintage of several Recanati wines and discussed the winery’s recipe for success. Recanati Winery’s total production is 100,000 cases (1,200,000 bottles) per year. Of that, 13,000 cases (156,000 bottles) are shipped to the United States, with 70 percent sold to non-kosher accounts. The majority of Recanati wine, about 75 percent, is sold domestically within Israel.” [Forbes]

The Trials of Creating Vegan, Kosher, Halal, Meat-Free Gelatin — by Sujata Gupta: “Newly converted gummy teetotalers joined strict vegetarians, vegans, and millions of kosher and halal eaters in the still-untapped consumer market for foods made with gelatin that doesn’t come from the slaughterhouse…” [Eater]

REMEMBERING — Ron Wilner, radio personality and political strategist, dies — by Christina Tkacik: “A few Baltimoreans will remember Ron Wilner’s voice. Those who don’t will still recognize his words. During the span of his career, Mr. Wilner hosted an AM radio show, helped coin the slogan ‘wild, wonderful West Virginia,’ named the ‘MARC’ train, and wrote zingers for politicians in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere. ‘My memories of him are of an individual who had real talent,’ said former Baltimore Sun reporter Edgar Feingold, a longtime friend.” [BaltimoreSun]

Nancy B. Reich, Scholarly Champion of Clara Schumann, Dies at 94 — by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim: “Nancy B. Reich, whose seminal 1985 biography of Clara Schumann established her as an important musical figure independent of her husband, the composer Robert Schumann, and helped turn the musicological spotlight on female composers, died on Jan. 31 in Ossining, N.Y… Nancy Bassen was born on July 3, 1924, in the Bronx to Hyman Bassen, a writer and labor activist, and Ida (Orland) Bassen… Ida ran a boardinghouse for Jewish and black students who were not welcome in college dorms.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Prime Minister of Israel (1999-2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013), Defense Minister (2007-2013), highly decorated IDF soldier and general, Ehud Barak turns 77… Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and the President of Disney-ABC Television Group, former President of ABC News, Ben Sherwood turns 55… Commercial director in the Inglewood and Beverly Hills offices of Keller Williams Realty, he is also a principal at Westside Realty Advisors, Gary Aminoff turns 82… Best-selling author, known for children’s and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume turns 81… Author, former member of the Knesset (1992-2003) and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council (2008-2013), daughter of Moshe Dayan, Yael Dayan turns 80… Periodontist in Newark, Delaware, Barry S. Kayne, DDS turns 75… Economist, physicist, legal scholar and libertarian theorist, his father was Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, David D. Friedman turns 74… Google’s computer genius, author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil turns 71… Esther Dickman… Film director, Darren Aronofsky turns 50… Comic book author and illustrator, Judd Winick turns 49…

Comedian, actor, podcaster, writer and producer, Ari Shaffir turns 45… Deputy director for external affairs and communications at the Troy, Michigan-based Kresge Foundation, Christine M. Jacobs turns 40… Former MLB player, he is now the program director and owner of London, Ontario-based Centrefield Sports, Adam Stern turns 39… NYC-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal who covers management trends and chief executives, Rachel Feintzeig turns 34… Law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2018-2019), he previously clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Michael Zuckerman turns 32… NYC-based political reporter for BuzzFeed News, Megan Apper turns 28… Associate in the DC office of Kirkland & Ellis focused on international trade and national security issues, Jeremy Iloulian turns 28… Media strategist at NYC-based Stu Loeser & Co., she worked previously for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in both her NYC and Washington offices, Anna Miroff turns 26…

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